Dick and Leann Hartman’s Carcinoid Journey

My name is Dick Hartman.  My wonderful wife Leann and I live in Cheyenne, WY.  I have three very special step daughters and five precious grandchildren.  (Four granddaughters and one grandson).

In July of 2011, after a bout with pneumonia, a follow-up cat scan showed hot spots in my liver.  After a biopsy, the hot spots were diagnosed as carcinoidtumors.  Leann and I were shocked and totally unprepared for the roller coaster of events that soon followed.

I had not experienced any symptoms of carcinoid tumors prior to the diagnosis and as a result our oncologist in Cheyenne prescribed a number of blood tests and scans.  His diagnosis was a terminal case of stage IV carcinoid tumors of the liver with no primary source identified.  His recommendation was to do nothing until I experienced symptoms and then consider sandostatin treatment and possible chemotherapy therapy.   He offered to make a referral for a second opinion and recommended a renown cancer center.

Prior to our referral being accepted by the renown cancer center, my nephew, who is an IT medical services consultant in Oklahoma, provided me with at least a dozen websites pertaining to the subject of neuroendocrine tumors.  A real blessing occurred when my nephew referenced an article in the Ogallala, NE newspaper about a 5k Run/Walk for Hope Fundraiser for the Carcinoid Tumor Foundation in Ft. Collins, CO.  Jeanne Lambert was given as the contact person.  The fascinating thing about the article was that it had been published four years prior to my diagnosis.

A quick call to Jeanne provided us with great encouragement and a wealth of information about how we approach battling this disease. This call also began a wonderful friendship with Jeanne and John.  After discussing the many options and alternatives for treatment with other cancer treatment centers, we were convinced that our best option would be to contact the Neuroendocrine Tumor Clinic in New Orleans.

In August, 2011 we met with Dr. Eugene A. Woltering in New Orleans.  We were very impressed when Dr. Woltering made the statement, “This is not a doctor’s office, this is a patient’s office.”  We were also impressed by the qualifications of the clinics’ team, the numerous suggestions on how to treat my specific case and their success in battling this disease.  Dr. Woltering’s first priority was to identify the primary.  This required undergoing eight more tests and scans that took over two months to complete.  My primary was found in my colon by a MIBG scan which was the last test they ran.  With the primary identified, Dr. Woltering recommended aggressive surgery to remove the primary and the tumors.

In November 2011 Dr. Woltering requested a sample of my biopsy be sent to their preferred ISI lab in California. This biopsy showed a poorly differentiated tumor which was totally different from the results received from a lab not preferred by his team.  Based on this information, Dr. Woltering and his team then prescribed four months of chemotherapy treatment.  Dr. Woltering advised us that when operating on patients with poorly differentiated tumors without prior chemotherapy, the results have not been as positive.  We were very impressed and pleased that Dr. Woltering and his team would go the extra mile to make sure I had the best chance for a good outcome.  Surgery for early November, 2011 was cancelled and I started my chemo treatments on November 21, 2011.

After just two chemo treatments, positive test results are indicating that progress is being made with my battle against the carcinoid tumors in my liver.  I will under a re-staging process in late February which will help Dr. Woltering and his team determine the next necessary steps to be taken.

Needless to say, the roller coaster events have been a challenge. However, our relationships we have made with Jeanne Lambert, the Colorado Carcinoid Support Group and the doctors in New Orleans have been a true blessing.  Leann and I would encourage anyone finding themselves confronted with carcinoid tumors, research and learn as much as possible about the disease and the treatments, stay positive and consider every day a blessing from God.